Newest active learning classroom marks its first semester in use

As the fall semester draws to a close, it provides the opportunity to highlight the initial use of a new active learning classroom on campus.  The Steelcase Active Learning Classroom, located in the College of Health and Human Services, is a flexible space that seats up to 38 students.

As the fall semester draws to a close, it provides the opportunity to highlight the initial use of a new active learning classroom on campus.

The Steelcase Active Learning Classroom, located in the College of Health and Human Services, is a flexible space that seats up to 38 students. The Steelcase Verb Chevron work tables are mobile and can be configured quickly to accommodate four modes: learning, testing, discussion and group work.

In addition to the flexible seating, the classroom has 30 Verb personal whiteboards to support a full range of learning and teaching styles, and the Verb presenter station enables the instructor to move about the classroom with ease.

Deborah Beete, a lecturer in Public Health Sciences, is teaching Health 4105: Program Planning and Evaluation in the Steelcase classroom. She noted the course involves a great deal of group work, and the classroom’s design fosters students’ success.

“As the instructor, I can seamlessly dip in and out of teams by pulling up a chair to meet with them without standing over them,” said Beete. “This improves communication and eliminates some of the power dynamic. The classroom’s mobility has created a more intimate environment that encourages students to learn not only from me but each other.”

Pilar Zuber, also a faculty member in Public Health Sciences, co-wrote the grant that enabled the creation of this new active learning classroom.

“What I like best is that the Steelcase Active Learning Classroom gives me greater choice in how I set up my classroom. This provides opportunities to utilize a variety of teaching strategies and activities, especially hands-on and collaborative approaches that are less feasible in a traditional fixed-seating classroom environment,” said Zuber.

“UNC Charlotte has seen a real growth in active learning since our first classroom came online five years ago,” said Center for Teaching and Learning Associate Director Heather McCullough. “We now have many different types of classroom configurations to support it and a very vibrant faculty community of practice in our Active Learning Academy.”

The University’s Center for Teaching and Learning administers the Steelcase Active Learning Classroom. Eighty-plus members of the center’s Active Learning Academy attended a fall kickoff event earlier this semester and toured the classroom (CHHS, Room 122).

During this kickoff, the center recognized the inaugural recipients of the Active Learning Academy awards:

  • Celine Latulipe - Excellence in Active Learning Leadership 
  • Mandy Couch - Excellence in Active Learning Leadership 
  • Lee-Ann Kenny - Emerging Active Learning Leader
  • Donna Sacco - Emerging Active Learning Leader

Jules Keith-Le, an instructional design and technology specialist with the Center for Teaching and Learning, noted, “The Active Learning Academy has held strong with approximately 80 faculty members participating each year, over the past two years. This is a testament to the faculty’s commitment to active learning pedagogy at UNC Charlotte and to engaging students in teaching and learning methods proven to increase student success. With two new awards for academy members in place, the Center for Teaching and Learning will be able to recognize the hard work and leadership demonstrated throughout the academic year by academy members.”

During the spring semester, Steelcase Education’s Active Learning Center (ALC) program awarded the University a $67,000 grant to add this new active learning classroom.

Photo: Pilar Zuber, standing, is using the Steelcase Active Learning Classroom this semester.